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The Trojan Horse Affair

Serial Productions & The New York Times

A strange letter appears on a city councillor’s desk in Birmingham, England, laying out an elaborate plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate the city’s schools. The plot has a code name: Operation Trojan Horse. The story soon explodes in the news and kicks off a national panic. By the time it all dies down, the government has launched multiple investigations, beefed up the country’s counterterrorism policy, revamped schools and banned people from education for the rest of their lives. To Hamza Syed, who is watching the scandal unfold in his city, the whole thing seemed … off. Because through all the official inquiries and heated speeches in Parliament, no one has ever bothered to answer a basic question: Who wrote the letter? And why? The night before Hamza is to start journalism school, he has a chance meeting in Birmingham with the reporter Brian Reed, the host of the hit podcast S-Town. Together they team up to investigate: Who wrote the Trojan Horse letter? They quickly discover that it’s a question people in power do not want them asking. From Serial Productions and The New York Times comes The Trojan Horse Affair: a mystery in eight parts. read less

Our Editor's Take

The Trojan Horse Affair podcast examines the case of an anonymous letter that shook Birmingham, England, in 2014. Listeners discover one of the biggest school scandals in British history. This is a story of mystery, terror, and conspiracy. Hamza Syed and Brian Reed host this groundbreaking eight-part podcast series.

The letter claimed that Islamic extremists plotted the infiltration of schools. To many, it seemed like a racist, fearmongering provocation. Hoax or not, the letter caused national panic. It was then that journalism student Hamza Syed set out to meet American reporter Brian Reed. Together they would uncover hidden details of the Trojan Horse Scandal.

The hosts share their challenges and unravel mysteries in the series. Conversations with flustered government officials come to light. As Syed and Reed investigated, they realized that many people in power did not want them asking questions. The hosts continued to persue a topic that it seemed no one wanted to talk about.

This infamous letter ended up altering laws across Great Britain. Yet there was no urgency to investigate who wrote it. Syed and Reed seek to determine what took place in Birmingham. They also consider what these events mean about British life in the 21st century.

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